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Backstage with Baldy

Joensuu – July 13th

Who knows where Thomas Edison was when he invented the phonograph?

Or where Leonard Rivkin was when he invented the child safety seat?

All I know is that Sean Kinney & Jerry Cantrell were backstage at the Ilosaarirock Festival in Joensuu, Finland when they invented the human scoreboard.

Okay, so maybe they didn’t invent it, but they absolutely perfected the art of delivering a sports score via half-nude human beings.

Here’s what happened.

Much like the rest of the free world, we here in Aliceville are experiencing World Cup fever.

It just so happened that the World Cup final began exactly one hour before Alice In Chains’ headline set at Ilosaarirock.

Figuring that some fans out in the crowd would have an interest in the match, Sean & Jerry put their heads together and devised an ingenious scheme in which Sean’s tech and Mike’s tech would use body paint to adorn their torsos with the flags of Germany & Argentina, and come on stage holding up the score of the country they were representing.

Usually Jerry gets ready for a show by doing a vocal warm-up and spending a while playing his guitar backstage.

This time however, he transitioned from vocal warm-up directly to make-up artist, as he took it upon himself to personally paint the flags on the pasty upper torsos of our beloved crew members.

The show began, the fans went nuts (Finnish fans are AWESOME!), and after a few songs it was time for the first score announcement.

Except there wasn’t a score.

It was zero – zero (nil – nil in football verbiage. Football! I’m on the bandwagon!) when William called out our human scoreboards to update the fans on the (non) score.

Scoreboard

This went on a few more times as the evening progressed until late in the set when Sean’s tech came out holding up a 1 instead of the zero he’d been flashing all night, and Mike’s tech was left to take his zero and shuffle defeatedly back offstage.

And just like that it was over. The World Cup ended in extra time with a German victory, and 20,000 Finnish music fans got to witness one of the single greatest advancements in sports scorekeeping history during an Alice In Chains show.

And speaking of history, shortly after the score announcement and a few more songs, the 2014 European tour was also written into the history books.

Travelling throughout this part of the world for the last few weeks has been a blast.

Watching the band play in front of tens of thousands of fans never gets old, and neither does seeing two shirtless pale dudes parading around on stage painted as German & Argentinian flags.

I’ve also developed a fascination with hearing the word potato pronounced in a myriad of foreign accents, and I’m going to miss that a lot.

There are probably a few dozen members of venue catering staffs throughout Europe that are still wondering what the deal was with the dim-witted bald American who would point to a tray of what was obviously potatoes and ask, “What’s this?” just to hear the answer in a thick foreign accent.

So now we rest up for a few weeks before the final trek on this album cycle.

We end things in Canada next month, where the people really don’t say the word potato all that funny, but they do rock out pretty good, so it should be great month of shows.

See you then.

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Backstage With Baldy

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